Boris Johnson vows to outfox Brexit-wreckers with ‘fancy footwork’ amid hopes of clinching last-ditch deal: Brexit News for Sunday 6 October

Boris Johnson vows to outfox Brexit-wreckers with ‘fancy footwork’ amid hopes of clinching last-ditch deal: Brexit News for Sunday 6 October
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Boris Johnson vows to outfox Brexit-wreckers with ‘fancy footwork’ amid hopes of clinching a last-ditch deal…

Boris Johnson has vowed to outfox Brexit wreckers with “fancy footwork” amid renewed hopes of a last-ditch deal. The PM has worked out some “nifty” moves to sidestep legal roadblocks by the rabble alliance of Remainers. But he also received encouraging signals as he hit the phones in a determined effort to get Britain out of the EU in 25 days. Mr Johnson was further boosted as Government whips said he may have enough backing to get his deal through the Commons — and used it to persuade EU leaders to get on board. But he won’t delay our exit if they don’t. Writing in The Sun on Sunday, the PM said: “They should be under no illusions or misapprehensions. “There will be no more dither. No more delay.” He was given a glimmer of hope when Dutch PM Mark Rutte failed to rule out a deal being struck at a crunch meeting of EU leaders next week. It comes as senior aides identified two major loopholes in Labour MP Hilary Benn’s “Surrender Act” which compels the PM to delay Brexit. A source said: “The Remainers have taken legal and procedural steps to thwart the referendum result but we’ve our own fancy footwork which we’ll deploy if necessary.” – The Sun

  • Boris Johnson tells EU leaders Britain will ‘head off on our own’ if they reject his Brexit plan – PoliticsHome

…as he reportedly abandons plans for a whirlwind tour of Europe to sell his new offer…

The PM has abandoned plans for a tour of Europe this week to sell his new Brexit proposal. He feels that as the EU snubbed it, flying around to meet other leaders, such as Angela Merkel of Germany, does not warrant the air miles he would notch up. Talks between officials from both sides were canned yesterday. An EU spokesman said: “Member states agreed the UK proposals do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement.” So Mr Johnson will stay at No10 and use a phone. ut dropping face-to-face talks fuelled suspicions that he is not serious about a deal. – Sunday Mirror

..while it is suggested he would ‘sabotage’ the EU if forced to delay Brexit…

Boris Johnson would veto the EU’s seven-year budget and send a Eurosceptic commissioner to Brussels to “disrupt” the bloc’s workings if he were forced into a Brexit delay, under plans being discussed by ministers. Senior Government figures are considering a series of proposals to “sabotage” the EU’s structures if Brussels refuses to agree a new deal or let Mr Johnson deliver Brexit without one. Two Cabinet ministers told this newspaper that they were among those backing a more “aggressive” approach towards Brussels. It is understood that plans under discussion include blocking the EU’s 2021-27 budget, which is due to be agreed early next year, and nominating a British commissioner who would cause disruption within their portfolio. Senior ministers discussed the prospect of sending Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, to take up the role. On Saturday, the move was openly advocated by Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, who compared it to shooting “a nuclear weapon into the heart of the asteroid”. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

…and would tell the Queen to ‘sack me if you dare’ if the constitutional crisis escalates 

Boris Johnson will dare the Queen to sack him rather than resign as prime minister in an attempt to drive through Brexit on October 31, cabinet ministers have revealed. In an unprecedented escalation of the constitutional crisis, senior aides said Johnson would not stand aside if his proposals were rejected by Brussels and MPs tried to unseat him to avert a no-deal Brexit. They said Johnson was prepared to “squat” in Downing Street even if MPs declare no confidence in his government and agree a caretaker prime minister to replace him. Sources say MPs and peers have even discussed the idea of Commons Speaker John Bercow taking on the job, although some involved in the talks do not think he could command majority support. Senior Tories also claimed Johnson would sit tight if he were found in contempt of court for ignoring the Benn Act, a law passed by remainer MPs to prevent no deal, unless he faces jail. One senior figure said: “Unless the police turn up at the doors of 10 Downing Street with a warrant for the prime minister’s arrest, he won’t be leaving.” – Sunday Times (£)

David Cameron supports Johnson’s Brexit offer and says there is a ‘good chance’ he will succeed as the deadline looms…

David Cameron has spoken of his support Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals and said he believes there is a “good chance” he will succeed in his mission to get Brexit done. The former Prime Minister, who was speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival earlier today, said he “completely supports” Mr Johnson’s efforts to get a deal in Europe. Mr Cameron has expressed his full support behind the proposed deal, adding: “That’s the best thing that could possibly happen. It is difficult but I think it is far better than a no-deal outcome, which I don’t think is a good outcome and not something I would recommend.” He suggested British politics would be “stuck” until Brexit is resolved, telling the festival: “If I can be perfectly frank about this and we can’t get a deal and we can’t all be stuck and I recognise my fair share of the responsibility for that fact we are stuck. – The Sun

…with Leo Varadkar suggesting Friday is a ‘reasonable’ deadline

The Taoiseach has said the UK has not come up with proposals to break the Brexit deadlock and to pave the way for deeper negotiations so far. However, speaking at a Fine Gael event in Dublin Leo Varadkar insisted there was still time to do so. Mr Varadkar said that next Friday would be a reasonable deadline, but added it was not his job to set one and he did not want to set a false deadline. He said the basic principle is that this is an international treaty and it is not going to be sorted on the night of the European Council summit, saying member states will need sight of it in advance. Mr Varadkar says problems remain around the issues of consent and the prospect of customs checks. He said there was a general view across the EU that an extension was better than a crash out, but said it would have to be granted for a good reason. The Taoiseach also said that he believes a deal is still possible. “It is possible at the European Council summit in two weeks’ time but the current position as of today is the European Union, including Ireland, doesn’t feel that the proposals put forward by Prime Minister Johnson yet form the basis for deeper negotiations,” he said. “But there is plenty of time for the UK Government to put forward further proposals and we are in the process of trying to arrange a meeting between me and Prime Minister Johnson next week.” – RTE

Michel Barnier says the blame for a no-deal Brexit would lie with Boris Johnson

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said Boris Johnson’s government will have to bear full responsibility for a no-deal Brexit, as more than three years of talks between the UK and Brussels appeared on the brink of collapse last night. In what appeared to be the opening shots in a blame game as both sides sense failure, Barnier said he could not see how a deal could be done unless the British side came forward with revised proposals within days. If it refused to do so – and there was no deal as a result – this would be viewed by the EU as the deliberate choice of Boris Johnson’s government. “If they do not change, I do not believe, on the basis of the mandate I have been given by the EU27, that we can advance,” Barnier said on Saturday at an event in Paris organised by Le Monde. If the UK was still serious about a deal it would return with “different proposals” this week and the EU side would be prepared to talk, he said. But he added: “I want to be extremely clear. No deal will never be Europe’s choice. It would be – and note the conditional tense, because I hope still to find a deal – it would always be the UK’s choice, not ours. We’re ready for it, we’ve taken measures to protect our citizens and our businesses. But we do not want it.” His comments came as Downing St made clear it would not give any substantial ground and that the onus was on the EU to show flexibility. – Observer

Australia advising Priti Patel on migrant points system

The Australian government is advising British ministers on Boris Johnson’s plans to introduce a points-based system for migrants after Brexit, the Home Secretary has revealed. Priti Patel told The Telegraph that the Department of Home Affairs in Canberra was “engaging” with the Home Office over plans for a new scheme intended to restore public faith in immigration control. The disclosure came after Ms Patel met Peter Dutton, her Australian counterpart, while both ministers were in the US for talks with Donald Trump’s administration last week. Ms Patel said: “Peter Dutton is leading a department in Australia that’s only been around for two years but they are engaging with us on the points-style immigration system discussion, something which we will be basing our own future immigration system on, to create a compassionate environment and ensure we allow the brightest and best to come to the United Kingdom in the future.” Last week Ms Patel was applauded by Conservative members as she declared to the party’s annual conference in Manchester that she would “end the free movement of people once and for all” and instead “introduce an Australian style points-based immigration system.” – Sunday Telegraph (£)

CBI under fire for refusing help with Brexit planning

A lobby group representing tens of thousands of British businesses has come under fire from MPs for failing to take part in a government scheme helping firms prepare for a no-deal Brexit. The CBI, which campaigned to remain in the EU, chose not to apply for a share of £15 million funding offered to representative bodies to help brief businesses on how to ready themselves for an October 31 departure. Other prominent groups, including the British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Institute of Directors, all bid for grants, which are due to be awarded this week. The CBI, which describes itself as the “voice of business” said it has been carrying out its own work helping to prepare its members for a no-deal exit, including running an online hub providing advice to firms.  “This is something the CBI is doing by itself as the quickest way of sharing information with businesses of all sizes and sectors affected,” a spokesman said. But Steve Baker, who was the minister responsible for no-deal planning until last year, described the body as “woeful” and suggested it may be exposed for “incompetence” if the UK does leave the EU without a deal. Mr Baker, who chairs the European Research Group of Conservative Eurosceptics, said: “I’m delighted by the implication that the woeful CBI is fully ready. Or about to be exposed for incompetence. Again.” – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Steve Baker suggests Nigel Farage should be Britain’s next EU Commissioner if Brexit is delayed…

Nigel Farage should be made Britain’s European Union commissioner if the UK fails to leave the EU at the end of this month, a senior Conservative MP said yesterday. Steve Baker, the chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, urged Boris Johnson to appoint the Brexit Party leader rather than the current plan of leaving the position unfilled if Brexit is delayed again. Mr Baker told Chopper’s Brexit Podcast – which you can listen to on the player above – that Mr Farage as the UK’s EU commissioner could be like the nuclear weapon which is inserted into the heart of an asteroid which explodes it before it can destroy the Earth in the film Armageddon. Last night Mr Farage did not rule out the idea of taking up the €22,000 a month job. “Let’s hope we leave – for everybody’s sake,” he said. Last month it emerged that the Prime Minister has refused to appoint a British commissioner to the European Commission – the body which proposes laws and manages the day-to-day business of the EU. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

…as it is reported the Brexit Party leader is planning to run as an MP in the Leave heartland of Thurrock…

Nigel Farage’s plans to mount his eighth attempt at entering Parliament are centring on the pro-Brexit heartland of Thurrock, The Mail on Sunday has learned. The Essex seat boasted the fourth-highest percentage of Leave voters in the country at the 2016 referendum, with 72.3 per cent, and the sitting Conservative Jackie Doyle-Price holds the constituency with a majority of just 345 – the party’s eighth most marginal seat. Another reason for the Brexit Party leader to put it at the top of his hitlist is the large vote for his former party, Ukip, at the 2017 General Election: Tim Aker came third with more than 10,000 votes. Tory Party strategists fear that Mr Farage is the main impediment to Boris Johnson winning a majority at the next Election – particularly if the Prime Minister has failed to win a deal and MPs have succeeded in their aim of forcing him to delay Brexit beyond October 31. Mr Johnson has angrily rejected Mr Farage’s offer to forge an electoral pact to help secure a No Deal Brexit – under which his party would stand aside in seats held by pro-Brexit Tories – with Mr Johnson’s allies describing Mr Farage as not a ‘fit and proper’ person. – Mail on Sunday

…while the Lib Dems agree not to challenge Dominic Grieve if he contests Beaconsfield as an Independent

The Liberal Democrats have agreed to stand aside to help former Conservative Dominic Grieve save his Beaconsfield seat, paving the way for a Brexit showdown at the ballot box. The former attorney-general, a leading light in the cross-party “rebel alliance”, is planning to stand as an independent after being kicked out of the party by Boris Johnson for backing plans to seize control of the Commons to block no-deal. Following talks with party bosses, Grieve’s Lib Dem opponent in Beaconsfield, Rob Castell, has agreed to stand down. This could pave the way for the Greens to do the same. Campaigners for a People’s Vote are also likely to urge Labour voters to hold their noses and back Grieve in order to maximise votes in parliament for a new referendum. – Sunday Times (£)

Commons Speaker’s powers could be curbed if Tories win election majority, minister suggests

The government could institute a review of the powers of the speaker of the Commons if Conservatives win a majority at the next election, a senior minister has suggested. The current speaker, John Bercow, has infuriated the government with a series of rulings, which have thrown obstacles in the way of Brexit. Most significantly, he has allowed emergency motions under a Commons rule known as Standing Order 24 (SO24) to be used to let MPs seize control of the business of the house to push through legislation limiting the PM’s room for manoeuvre. Mr Bercow has allowed SO24 to be used to force binding votes, in a move away from the convention that debate on emergency motions ends with a “neutral” division stating simply that the house has considered the issue. An SO24 motion was used to push through legislation forcing Theresa May to seek an extension to Brexit talks in the spring, and the tactic was employed again to facilitate the so-called Benn Act, which requires Boris Johnson to ask for another delay if he fails to secure a deal with parliamentary support within the next two weeks. – Independent

Boris Johnson: Pack Eur bags, deal or no Brexit deal we are walking out of the European Union in 25 days

After decades of campaigning, three years of arguments and seemingly endless months of pointless delay, it is now just 25 days until the UK’s membership of the EU ends. We will be packing our bags and walking out on October 31. The only question is whether Brussels cheerily waves us off with a mutually agreeable deal, or whether we will be forced to head off on our own. I’ve been clear from the start that, while it is prudent to prepare for the possibility of a No Deal Brexit, it would be best for everyone if we could reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides. This week we put forward our ideas to make that happen. It’s a practical compromise that gives ground where necessary while still protecting the UK’s interests and delivering the Brexit this country voted for. Our proposals get rid of the anti-democratic “backstop” while avoiding any infrastructure or checks at the Irish border. Our plan respects the Northern Ireland peace process and the Good Friday agreement. Where the previous Withdrawal Agreement, backstop and all, drove an almighty wedge through the heart of Parliament, I have heard positive noises from across the House. And I salute the spirit of compromise from MPs on all sides who have looked at what’s on the table, reflected on what’s best for their constituents, and decided they are willing to put aside their personal beliefs and back the deal that they know will get Brexit done. – Boris Johnson MP for The Sun

Nicky Morgan: I voted Remain but I’m backing the PM’s Brexit plan to break logjam

If I’ve learned anything in the past three years, it is that many MPs seem to have forgotten that “politics is the art of the possible”. I know some people may have been surprised when I took a role in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, but what the critics miss is that there is nothing ultimately to be gained for our country or our constituents in any of us remaining stuck in our views from three years ago. It has been clear for months that the current Brexit situation simply cannot continue and that an end to this first phase must be found. For that reason, I can support the prime minister’s clear view that we must leave the European Union on 31 October – with a deal or without one. – Nicky Morgan MP for the Observer

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The Brexit prize is in sight, just as England achieved Cricket World Cup triumph against all odds

The Brexit prize is in sight. Just as on July 14 when 30,000 spectators packed Lord’s cricket ground with eight million more watching across the nation, the UK is poised with victory within its grasp. This is the final super over. Only six balls remain to be played with Britain’s star batsman standing at the crease — Boris Johnson. England’s World Cup triumph was achieved against the odds and so the passage of our nation towards Brexit has been a slog. However, the PM, unflappable and unflinching in the face of sledging from all sides, has been transformative in reshaping our fortunes. Now he stands before us with something the doubters, despoilers and delayers thought he could never achieve — a workable proposal that both delivers on the referendum and takes into account the legitimate concerns on the Irish border. Under Boris’s deal the UK would leave the EU’s customs union and the single market. Brexit was always a means to an end, not an end in itself. The chance for the British people to decide how they wish to be governed. – Jacab Rees-Mogg MP for The Sun

Daniel Hannan: Leave voters can see what’s going on. They won’t blame Boris if Brexit is delayed

Here’s how it will go. The EU, after some sneering and posturing, will reject Boris Johnson’s deal. It will do so because it is convinced that the Benn Act – we’re not supposed to call it the Surrender Act, so let’s go with Abject National Grovelling Act – will force us to seek another extension. It expects that extension to lead to a general election, which it hopes our pro-Brussels parties will win. Brexit could then be reversed: total victory for the federalists, total ruin for the souverainistes. And should Boris win, well, Brussels can always come back to his proposals then. Can I be certain of this sequence of events? Of course not: no one can be certain of anything in British politics at the moment. But I am pretty sure about the first part. Whether through design or through gargantuan stupidity, the MPs who voted to make “no deal” impossible last month instead made a deal impossible. As long as Eurocrats believe they can keep us in by saying “no”, they will carry on saying “no”. – Daniel Hannan MEP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Janet Daley: Labour’s pro-deal faction could yet be key to deciding Britain’s future

The Labour party could be about to determine the future of the country. Now there’s a sentence you did not expect to read here. Bear with me, this is not a joke. The bizarre concatenation of absurdities which are dominating our politics have thrown up a paradoxical state of affairs that might produce what would have seemed, around a week ago, the most wildly unlikely outcome imaginable. Of course, I am not referring to the official Corbyn-led Labour party which has become utterly irrelevant to the most important argument of the day, nor to the Starmer-Thornberry Remain platoon whose forces seem determined to break faith with the party’s historic roots and traditional moral mission. No, the Labour faction which could exercise this power is that band of real rebels: the backbench posse of MPs who are refusing to join in the blanket refusal to back a Johnson deal and thereby strengthen the belief that a majority in Parliament is unequivocally committed to remaining in the EU. Those Labour politicians are the ones who resisted Hilary Benn’s Surrender Bill and who now appear prepared to give the prime minister a respectable majority if he should get EU approval for a deal. – Janet Daley for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Sunday Times: Time for all to compromise on Johnson’s Brexit plan

Britain and the European Union are, it seems, heading inexorably towards a collision in which everybody gets hurt and nobody benefits. All sides in the negotiation, and all countries, emphasise their determination to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Voters, like the chorus in TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, look on at the spectacle of this slow-motion car crash as it progresses but are unable to intervene. The question this weekend is whether anything can be done to avoid it. Boris Johnson, constrained by his own promise in the Conservative Party leadership contest to bin the Irish backstop, can claim some success. His plan, released shortly after his first speech to a Tory conference as prime minister, would probably command a Commons majority. Both Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party and the Tory Brexit hardliners of the European Research Group appear willing to cut him more slack than they did Theresa May. Getting their support for a proposal that would establish a regulatory border between the mainland and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea, at least temporarily, is no mean feat. Germany is on the verge of recession and Ireland will suffer disproportionately from a no-deal outcome. Sooner or later, compromise is required. It is unlikely to be precisely on the government’s proposals but it could be on the middle ground between that and the earlier withdrawal agreement. Otherwise, everybody loses. – Sunday Times (£) editorial

The Sun: In just 74 days Boris Johnson has achieved what Theresa May failed to do in three years

In just 74 days Boris Johnson has already achieved what dithering Theresa May failed to do in three years. He has fashioned a credible Brexit offer that could win a Commons majority, confounding critics who insisted he only wanted No Deal. His compromise has been carefully crafted so it is palatable to MPs from all sides who genuinely want a deal. But as he says on these pages, it only works if the EU are willing to show they want one too. With his customary optimism, the PM says: “The British public wants to move on. Most MPs want to move on. And I honestly believe the EU wants to move on too.” The trouble is Parliament’s Remainers have already given the EU a get-out with the Benn “Surrender Act”. And Brussels seems happy to sit back and let the wreckers do their worst to prevent any deal. With time running out, the Eurocrats must abandon their stubborn posturing and meet the PM halfway — or explain to businesses why they are risking their futures. But don’t hold your breath. If his deal is rejected at the EU summit in a fortnight Boris is still determined to leave without one on the 31st. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • Farage dismantles Remain author’s mocking of Brexit Party success – Sunday Express
  • John Bercow savaged by Deputy Speaker over Brexit – Sunday Express
  • Lib Dem candidate apologises for saying ‘stopping Brexit is like fighting the Nazis’ – Sunday Telegraph (£)